Dganit Zauberman, Field of Vision, 2018. Her exhibition, Land in Flux runs at Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI), 85 Harrison St., through June 14 of this year. Corey Schmidt Photo.
The lobby of Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel is now awash in various landscapes. Some swim in dark red pigment, treacherous features protruding around their edges. Others feel blissful, with a calm blue sky and gentle, cornfield-yellow terrain below.
These landscapes are the work of Israeli-born, New Haven-based artist Dganit Zauberman, who for years has been working out of an Erector Square studio in the city's Fair Haven neighborhood. Her exhibition Land in Flux runs at BEKI, 85 Harrison St., through June 14 of this year.
Land in Flux features roughly 45 landscapes, many showcasing how emotional and psychological moods can impact a person’s environment. Oftentimes, Zauberman said, her mood shifts throughout the creative process, such that a calm, jovial element may clash with a chaotic, moody gesture in the same piece.
“It can be impacted by studio environment changes over time, but also the change in my mood, and the way I perceive painting,” Zauberman said in a recent phone call. “I often take a painting and when I feel it's done, I put it aside. A couple of years later, maybe a couple of days or, depending on the painting, a couple of weeks, it gets brought back to be reworked with the same chaos and order idea.”
Sometimes, this means working with color contrasts, such as a bright yellow flash across the sky above a dark, layered terrain. Or in other cases, the artist takes a three dimensional approach to her work by having the painting’s terrain pop out of the canvas. Originally, that wasn’t part of her signature artistic process, she said. As time progressed, however, she found the technique becoming a centerpiece of her work.
For the artist, this evolving interest fits: land has always been important to her and her family. She grew up on an Israeli kibbutz, a community centered around agriculture. Years later, land is more than a source of life “with food and water,” she said—it also tells a story.
“I often look at land as a house that needs protection,” Zaubermann said. “In Israel, we have a lot of struggle and violence over land.”
It’s a story “not only about your geology, history and geography, [but also physically and emotionally] in a way there’s blood going into contested land,” she added.
This idea of “chaos and order” first came to Zauberman while she was in art school at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she became fascinated with the works of 20th century American painter Jackson Pollock. Pollock became known for his “drip” painting technique in the 1930s and 40s.
“I liked how there’s a certain chaotic scene in the beginning but when I start to put the ‘order’ in, my inclination gravitates toward nature and landscapes,” she said.
These landscapes also use recycled materials. Occasionally, Zauberman uses leftover paint from her larger works to create her smaller-sized pieces, a form in which she finds more joy in due to their more intimate nature.
“I'm more drawn to the smaller ones because it’s more intimate when making them,” Zauberman said. Sometimes, with the “big ones, I feel [as if] my body is inside them when I’m making them.”
BEKI Art Committee Co-Chair Helen Rosenberg praised the works, noting that Land In Flux has been in the congregation's exhibition pipeline for several years. The two met through Artspace New Haven’s City-Wide Open Studios prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. She said the synagogue’s lighting and renovated basement provide the space and focus to highlight Zauberman’s work.
“I was captivated by the light and other-worldliness of her landscapes,” Rosenberg said. “Not to mention her unique way of adding depth to them.”
To see Zauberman’s work and experience Land in Flux, contact the BEKI office at 203-898-2108 or email email@example.com. The exhibition will be on display until June 14.